Insect control practices in New Hanover County, how one local group is pushing for greener alternatives

A local group is working to raise awareness about the pesticides that are sprayed on playgrounds and baseball fields, which protect against pests and insects.
Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 10:23 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A local group is working to raise awareness about the pesticides that are sprayed on playgrounds and baseball fields, which protect against pests and insects.

The group’s petition has about 240 signatures as of Monday morning, and the goal is to show the county that enough people want to change when it comes to what is being sprayed at our parks.

While pesticides protect against pests and insects, they can also pose significant risks to human health and the environment. Some studies have indicated that exposure to pesticides may lead to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory problems, skin irritation, developmental issues, and even increased cancer risks.

Evan Folds, a supervisor for New Hanover Soil and Water Conservation, is pushing for a greener alternative when it comes to land care practices.

“It makes zero sense to spray known poisons at playgrounds, in the mulch for weeds, period, right? No matter what. We can bend down and pick it up if we want to, or use a flame or something like that, we don’t need to use those chemicals. Now in a ball field where performance is an issue … there’s a larger conversation there,” said Folds.

The county is allowing Folds to use a greener alternative on two of the five baseball fields at Olsen Park to see if it’s as effective as the products that are being used now.

We also asked the county about a greener alternative for mosquito repellant. Last week, a county in South Carolina became the first in its state to use a new eco-friendly mosquito repellent. We asked if this will ever be a viable option in New Hanover County.

Officials say that they are not currently studying the effectiveness of any green or natural insecticide for mosquito control, however, we were told they will review products for effectiveness and cost as they become available on the market.

Officials said they’ve seen a drought over the last few years and that has affected the mosquito numbers. Lower numbers mean that the county does not need to spray as much.

The county vector control puts out traps for mosquitos every Monday, and on Tuesday mornings, they pick them up to see how many were caught. This gives them an idea of if they need to spray for mosquitos or not.

Even though they might not currently be looking for greener alternatives, the county has used an eco-friendly way of killing mosquitos for many years now.

“We always do our due diligence on the pesticides that we do use. We do implement a lot of fish out into the open areas where mosquitoes breed. If that water is gonna stay there for a while, we’ll put fish in there instead of chemical and we’ll let the fish do the natural job instead of putting out pesticides,” said Doug Scholz, New Hanover County senior vector control operator.

One simple trick to cut down on the number of mosquitos in your area is to remove standing water where mosquitos can lay eggs, such as in flower pots, buckets and trash cans.

Other things to keep in mind include covering water storage containers, installing or repairing window and door screens, keeping exterior doors closed and once a week, emptying, scrubbing, turning over, covering or throwing out any items that hold water.